I have been warning you about security issues with ATMs for many years, primarily related to “skimmers” which are devices installed by criminals on ATMs that read your card and use that information to ultimately steal from your bank account, a problem that remains with many ATMs although the deadline for banks to comply with making ATMs compliant with EMV chip technology has long passed. However on a larger scale, the FBI has just issued a warning to banks about an expected coordinated global attack on ATMs that will attack both the operating systems of ATMs and bank computer networks. The European law enforcement agency Europol issued a dire warning about such attacks last year. Part of the problem is that the operating systems used by many banks are outdated with many banks still using the Windows XP operating system that is no longer supported by Microsoft with security updates. There are a number of security steps that banks should be taking to protect themselves from these attacks, but many banks still have not taken these important security measures. While news of such attacks have rarely been covered in the news media, these attacks have gone on for a few years and are getting worse. In 2016 and 2017, for example the National Bank of Blacksburg in Virginia lost 2.4 million dollars to ATM attacks. A massive coordinated attack is expected soon. It is not a matter of “if,” it is only a matter of “when.”
For all of us as consumers, this problem will not affect our individual accounts, but poses a significant problem to banks around the country.
To protect yourself from skimmers, which is still a problem with ATMS that are not chip compliant, always look for signs of tampering on any ATM you use.  If the card inserting mechanism appears loose or in any other way tampered with, don’t use it.   Debit cards, when compromised through a skimmer, put you at risk of having the bank account tied to your card entirely emptied if you do not report the theft promptly and even if you report the theft immediately, you will lose access to your bank account while the matter is investigated by the bank.  Skimmers at ATMs are often coupled with a thin, clear electronic device that goes on top of the keyboard to capture your PIN to enable the identity thief to access to your account. A FICO Card Alert Service report noted that 60% of skimmer attacks were done on private, non-bank ATMS so you may wish to avoid those ATMS when possible.
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